The Gladiators trailed late but earned two goals in the final 1:46 to take the dramatic 4-3 over Greenville on Friday night. Derek Nesbitt led the way for the visitors registering three points including the game-winning goal in Atlanta big divisional victory.
The Gladiators managed the game’s first goal to break the ice 8:37 into the opening frame. Greenville tried to wrap the puck around the glass and the puck hit a glass partition and landed right on the stick of Derek Nesbitt in the low slot. The Gladiators’ captain slapped the puck over to Colin Jacobs wide open near the top of the crease. The for Buffalo Sabres draft pick snapped the puck into the goal past Swamp Rabbit netminder, Brandon Halverson for his fourth goal of the season.
Atlanta increased the lead to 2-0 early in the middle period. Ben Danford sent Nesbitt and Jacobs into the Greenville zone on a 2-on-1 with a breakout pass. Jacobs centered the puck to the Seaforth, ON native who redirected the puck past Halverson for his second point on the night.
Greenville was awarded a two-man power play near the half-way point of second period and took full advantage to cut the Atlanta lead back to one. Swamp Rabbits leading scorer, Caleb Herbert scored from the netmouth after getting the pass from Joe Houk. Matt Prapavessis was credited with the secondary helper on Herbert’s 17th tally of the season.
Herbert netted his second of the game just over three minutes later to get the game back to even. Evan Jasper created the turnover in the Gladiators end and slid the pass across the zone to the Minnesota native who blasted a one-timer past Dan Vladar.
Greenville took their first lead of the evening 12:02 into the third period. Wade Murphy took a shot from the right circle that missed the net wide but hit off the end boards and popped back out front. Austin McKay settled in the right place at the right time, chipped the puck into the back of the goal for his sixth tally of the game.
After a plethora of chances denied by Halverson, Tanner Pond broke through to tie the game with just 1:46 left on the clock. Phil Lane centered the pass in the crease from behind the Greenville goal. The rookie battling in the crease tapped the puck across the goal-line past a scrambling Halverson to tie the game late with his eighth mark of the season.
Looking to end the game in regulation and not give their opponent a point as well, Atlanta took the lead with only :56 second remaining on the game. Taylor Stefishen improved his point streak to six games as he forced a turnover and found Nesbitt in the left circle. The all-time leader in goals in Gladiators history added another to his legendary resume whistling a shot over the shoulder of Halverson. Nesbitt’s third point of the game gave Atlanta the 4-3 win on the road and third straight victory against Greenville.
With the late-game heroics on enemy ice, the Gladiators broke the tie with Greenville and Orlando and moved to sole possession of third place in the South Division with 41 points. In the loss, the Swamp Rabbits remained at 39 points in the standings.
Up next, the same two teams face-off at the same place for the middle of three straight at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena between the two South Division Rivals tomorrow night at 7:00pm.
Late Game Heroics Gives Atlanta Dramatic 4-3 Road Win in Greenville
Friday, January 19th
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